Creating a book club for first-year students
All full-time incoming first-year undergraduate students will have the opportunity to prepare for academic life at Queen’s months before they arrive on campus this fall.
Special edition copies of Eating Dirt by Charlotte Gill are being distributed to approximately 3,900 students through the new Queen’s University Common Reading Program. Students are encouraged to read the book over the summer in advance of several activities planned for the start of the academic year.
“The Queen’s University Common Reading Program is an exciting initiative that introduces students to the academic expectations of university, and demonstrates the value of reading, writing, critical thinking and discussion at Queen’s,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs.
The program eases students’ transition to university by encouraging them to interact with their peers, faculty and community members during discussions about the themes of Ms Gill’s memoir including exploration, personal growth, sustainability and citizenship. The book, published by Greystone Books, highlights her 20-year career planting trees in the forests of Canada.
“Adjusting to a new academic and social environment can be a nerve-wracking experience for many first year students, and building a sense of community through Orientation programs can help a lot with this transition,” says Megan Stanley (Artsci’12), who is helping plan the program. “Using neutral yet substantive ground such as Charlotte Gill’s memoir as a starting point for discussion and debate may help students to feel more comfortable interacting and building relationships with others, which is particularly important during the first week of university.”
Residence dons, graduate and upper-year students, and volunteer staff and faculty will lead book discussions with the students during fall orientation week. Queen’s has also partnered with Kingston WritersFest to host a special event during the festival (September 27-30) where Ms Gill will speak to the first-year students.
An essay contest is also planned. The authors of the best submissions will have lunch with Principal Daniel Woolf.